Sophie's Gallery

In the 1970s, SMSC expanded its curriculum to offer its first art classes. With these first classes, an untapped wealth of talent was revealed.

Many students who had not been able to express themselves through traditional means were sharing their once hidden feelings through vibrant, original works of art on canvas, wood, glass and other media. The program became so popular that it outgrew the available space. In 1999, with generous community support, the art program moved to a storefront in Downtown El Cajon and was named Sophie’s Gallery and Gift Shop. In 2007, we expanded the original storefront space to 4,400 square feet that allowed us to serve more students and add more classes. Every week, our students are taught a variety of media, such as print-making, jewelry-making, painting, charcoal, pastels, fabric arts, and more. All of the classes at Sophie’s Gallery are taught by professional artists – our art program was the first in our region to offer this enhanced benefit.


In 2007, we opened a satellite gallery and gift shop, called Sophie’s Too, in our new Education Center on our main campus. And, at the end of 2009, we opened a third venue located at the NTC Promenade/Liberty Station where our students showed their work alongside artists from the general community. This third site provided an effective way to raise public awareness about our programs and engaged the support and interest of artists from the general community. As of January 2014, Sophie’s Gallery NTC/Liberty Station has closed its doors and moved to Kensington to establish Sophie’s Kensington Gallery & Gift Shop.


Our Sophie’s Gallery location in Downtown El Cajon has an annual exhibition season that is launched with opening night receptions that often draw 200+ people. At the Sophie’s Gallery location on NTC Promenade, we also hold monthly exhibition openings for local artists who show their work alongside our students’ work.


In 2010 Sophie’s Gallery El Cajon was voted San Diego’s Best Gallery (to buy) through the San Diego Union-Tribune and




Along with our annual exhibition season at Sophie’s Gallery in Downtown El Cajon and NTC Promenade, our students also show their work at venues regionally, nationally, and internationally. Our artists have exhibited their work at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; showed and sold jewelry, prints and painted scarves at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Gift Shop in Washington, D.C; and are participating in an exhibition entitled “Neurodiversity” at The Museum of Modern Art of Ukraine. These venues are in addition to more than a dozen shows they have each year, including Bread & Cie in Hillcrest; UCSD; Sho Sho Me Gallery (Borrego Springs); and Princeton University Medical Center (New Jersey), to name just a few.


Visit Sophie's Gallery!

Sophie's Gallery is an art studio where adults with developmental disabilities are given the opportunity and tools they need to realize their full creative potential.

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Other Programs
and Specializations

Adaptive Computer Training

This innovative program trains adults with developmental disabilities to learn basic computer skills using adaptive technology equipment that meets each student’s individual need.

Aquatics Program

St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center Aquatics Program offers quality classes, year-round, to the general public and to our SMSC students. Swimming is an enjoyable social and/or recreational experience that also provides a broad spectrum of health benefits.

Culinary Arts Training

These courses qualify students to prepare and serve daily meals. SMSC’s goal is to teach skills that will help students find employment opportunities in the food service industry.

Employment Services

SMSC’s Employment Services Program is a community-based program that serves adults with developmental disabilities who are in the process of acquiring vocational skills, and generally need support and direction in obtaining and retaining employment.


Developing communication skills is important. At SMSC a licensed speech/language pathologist assesses individual speech and language abilities and provides instruction and activities in small group settings.

Organic Garden

Our two-acre organic garden site includes a flourishing natural habitat; complete with ADA approved meandering pathways, contemplative spaces and opportunities to commune with nature. In addition, our gardens serve as a reality-based work training environment.

Activity Center

Activity Center programs focus on the development and maintenance of the functional skills required for self-advocacy, community integration and employment.

Adult Development Center

The goal of the Adult Development Center program is to offer a variety of opportunities, which aim at increasing the level of independence, as well as improve the overall “quality of life” for those we serve.

Behavior Modification

The purpose of this program — which is offered on a consumer-to-staff ratio of 1:3 — is to increase consumers’ level of independence, and decrease their level of behaviors, while they are involved in work and other meaningful activities.

Senior Program

This program is open to those aged 50 and over. Our primary focus is the promotion of an environment that is conducive to the discovery of recreational alternatives, the improvement of an individual’s leisure skills, and enhancement of the retirement experience for our senior population.

Self Determination

Enroll in our regular programs or specialty programs, but manage services outside of San Diego Regional Center.